Leopoldina President Gerald Haug congratulates Academy member Benjamin List on receiving the Nobel Prize in Chemistry
The chemist Benjamin List, a member of the Leopoldina, is awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2021. List receives this distinction together with the US American David W.C. MacMillan for the development of asymmetric organocatalysis. This is a precise tool with which molecules can be constructed more efficiently. According to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm, the method has had a great impact on pharmaceutical research and has made chemistry greener.
The president of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina Gerald Haug extends his congratulations to Benjamin List on this prestigious award: „This year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry recognises groundbreaking scientific findings in the field of asymmetric organocatalysis, which for example, plays an important role in the production of medications. I am particularly pleased that a Leopoldina member is being honoured for his research achievements.“
Benjamin List is a chemist. He co-founded and significantly advanced the field of organocatalysis. Catalysts generally contribute to chemical reactions taking place faster and more efficiently. Organocatalysts have the advantage that they do not require expensive metal compounds, which are often harmful to one’s health and the environment. Benjamin List discovered the natural amino acid proline to be an efficient catalyst and thus made organocatalysis possible. This allowed natural substances to be used as catalysts in chemistry for the first time. Until then, catalysts containing metals had been used almost exclusively. Organic catalysts are easier to recover and usually less toxic than metal catalysts.
Benjamin List (born 1968) has been Director at the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung (MPI) in Mülheim an der Ruhr/Germany since 2005. He studied chemistry at the Freie Universität Berlin/Germany and received his doctorate from Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main/Germany in 1997. From 1999 to 2003, he was Assistant Professor at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla/USA. He has received numerous awards for his research, including the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize of the German Research Foundation (2016), the Cope Scholar Award (2014), the Mukaiyama Award (2013) and the Otto Bayer Prize (2012). List has been a member of the Leopoldina since 2018.
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry is currently endowed with a total of ten million Swedish kronor (equivalent to around 980,000 euros). All Nobel Prizes are traditionally bestowed on the laureates on 10 December, the anniversary of founder Alfred Nobel’s death.
The Leopoldina has more than 1,600 members, among whom 34 are Nobel Prize laureates.
The member profile of Benjamin List can be found here: https://www.leopoldina.org/en/members/list-of-members/list-of-members/member/Member/show/benjamin-list/
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About the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
As the German National Academy of Sciences, the Leopoldina provides independent science-based policy advice on matters relevant to society. To this end, the Academy develops interdisciplinary statements based on scientific findings. In these publications, options for action are outlined; making decisions, however, is the responsibility of democratically legitimized politicians. The experts who prepare the statements work in a voluntary and unbiased manner. The Leopoldina represents the German scientific community in the international academy dialogue. This includes advising the annual summits of Heads of State and Government of the G7 and G20 countries. With 1,600 members from more than 30 countries, the Leopoldina combines expertise from almost all research areas. Founded in 1652, it was appointed the National Academy of Sciences of Germany in 2008. The Leopoldina is committed to the common good.
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